V1467 Sew Along: Pockets and Topstitching

What do Mei and Bei Bei have to do with sewing?

Hi! It’s Week 5 of our #V1467SewAlong and I’m going to walk you through steps 3-8 of V1467 pea coat construction. But first, let’s talk about my newest obsession: Watching mama panda Mei and her one-month-old boy Bei Bei on the National Zoo’s Panda Cam. It’s mesmerizing! Not much is happening beyond Mei cradling, feeding and licking her little guy, but you can tell that with her slow-paced and careful attention Bei Bei will grow into one fine giant panda.

So here’s my overworked metaphor for this week’s sewing:  Be like a mama panda and sew your pea coat on a slow and steady course. Set your sewing machine speed to turtle pace. Think about what you’re going to do before you do it. Stitch without distractions. Press your seams every step of the way. And voilà, a beautiful panda I mean pea coat is taking shape!

Ok, let’s talk construction…

Steps 3 through 8:
I think our written directions are on target for these steps. I recommend that at step 4, you mark where to stop stitching the seam for the pocket openings. Check both front pieces to make sure your markings are in the same place.

stitching the pockets in pea coat V1467

Step 6: This is where you first topstitch the pocket opening in place. Obviously, press your seams open first.  You can see I marked where to stitch.


Step 7: Stitch the pocket seams. I really, really hate when pockets develop holes at the seams. To counteract this, I set my stitch length to about 1.7 to 2.0 when I stitch the lower pocket seam area where pockets typically receive the most stress. Then I stitch again just outside the seam line in this area to reinforce it. No holes in my pockets!

Before topstitching in step 8, you need to prepare your seams. By this I mean make sure you 1) first clipped the curves to help the seam lie flat, 2) you carefully pressed the seams open, and 3) you catch-stitched the side front seam allowance to hold it in place (the front piece seam allowance will be held in place by the topstitching you do in step 8). Here’s my catch-stitching:


Side note: Learning to catch-stitch as a means of keeping seam allowances flat and in place was one of the best concepts my sewing mentors passed on to me. Don’t you hate it when you wear a lined jacket or coat and you can feel the seam allowances pushing up? Or you get your jacket back from the drycleaner and the seam allowances were pressed wrong? It happens all the time with RTW. So now I always take a minute to catch-stitch the seams in place whenever I make a jacket or coat. You’ll want to catch-stitch the side front seam allowance after step 7, the front side seam allowance after step 22, and the sleeve seam allowances. Catch-stitching is easy to do, fast, and can even be a little sloppy as it will not show.

Want to learn how to catch-stitch and sew other key hand stitches? Download the article Hand Stitches Primer by Kathryn Brenne, Vogue Patterns Magazine, April/May 2011. Just enter your email address here; you’ll receive a confirmation message on this page and the link to download the PDF will appear just below it.

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Step 8: Topstitching the front seam. First, set your machine speed to slow so you can stitch carefully to create even topstitching lines. Next, do some test topstitching to determine how far from the seam line you want to topstitch and what length you want your stitches to be. I used the 1/4″ topstitching foot for my machine and I set my stitch length at 2.8.


My topstitching foot has a special guide blade that you can position along the seam line. That way your topstitching is then always exactly parallel and equidistant from the seam line or edge. You can also use the edge of your presser foot as a topstitching guide.


Above, what my finished topstitched seam looks like. You can see the water-soluble marks I made to know where to sew the exterior pocket opening reinforcement stitches. Below is what the interior pocket area looks like (kinda messy!) and how I clipped and graded the seams:

V1467 pea coat sew along on the McCall Pattern Company blog


Above is another view of the topstitched pocket area. I flattened this part using a wood clapper to hold in the steam heat from my iron and force a sharp crease in my pea coat wool.

So that’s it for steps 3 through 8; nothing terribly complicated here. If there’s anything you’d like explained in more depth, please let me know in the comments section. Next week co-host Rachel will talk about constructing the back, back lining, and sleeves. Don’t forget to post your progress photos to our V1467 Flickr page and to use the #v1467sewalong hashtag when you post your photos. Thanks!



We’ve been sewing since 1863.

  1. Looks great! I love the catch stitching. Are you planning to zig zag or otherwise finish the pocket bag? Correct me if I’m wrong but I think the front of the jacket is lined it wouldn’t be necessary.

    1. Hi Grace! You’re right, the front of the jacket is lined so my pockets will not show.

  2. What is that interlining called? I need to get some! Thank you!

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